Font Size » + | -By Rev. Dyrie Francis Four years ago I sat in the patient’s chair in my doctor’s office awaiting some lab results. After reviewing the results of my recent lab tests, he announced, “Your HbA1c level is elevated to a pre-diabetic level.” I was shocked because I tried to eat in a healthy manner and to exercise moderately to avoid such a diagnosis. Right away, I went into the “fight” mode. I had to make immediate lifestyle changes in order to maintain good health – cut my intake of sugar and carbohydrates! This was not a welcomed change but a necessary one for me. I was not the only beneficiary of this lifestyle change. My husband and some friends voluntarily made similar changes. Each new day, week, month, or year bears the potential for life changes. Some are welcome changes, like those of a young woman eagerly awaiting her wedding day, a well-earned job promotion, the birth of a baby, passing a bar exam, obtaining the coveted immigration status, or hearing a good medical report. Yet the reality is that this year some will have undesirable life changes they did not anticipate: perhaps a hurtful relationship, a life-threatening medical diagnosis, the sudden passing of a child or spouse, relocation away from family and friends, or significant loss of income or property. Christ followers are not exempt from life changes. In fact, some people propose that life seemed to take a negative turn after they began to live for Christ. Just a couple weeks ago a few high school seniors approached me beaming with pride about their acceptance to the colleges of their choice. At the same time, two young adults were grief stricken after losing their 57-year-old mother to cancer. A 38-year-old woman, a single parent of a teen and a younger child, received the devasting news that she has stage four (or metastatic) colon cancer. Whether changes are positive or negative, they can elicit a range of emotions: joy, anticipation, excitement, fear, anxiety, anger, resentment, denial, or even resignation. Even good changes can produce negative emotions. For example, some of the high school seniors will be leaving home for college in a few months. Already their parents are becoming anxious about college life away from the safety and “control” of home. I recall the night of my wedding when a teardrop fell on my cheek as I said good bye to my parents. I was happy and expectant, yet suddenly I realized I was about to embark on an unknown course – a huge change without my family. For a brief moment I felt frightened and alone in spite of all the joy and celebration! Since changes are inevitable, the question is how we are to face them with hope and bravery. First, it is helpful to identify some common emotional responses associated with changes, and then secondly, draw some useful antidotes from the Scriptures to help reduce the intensity and to support an emotionally balanced response to changes. Fear and anxiety are two of the most recurrent emotions. Their root may be feelings of inadequacy in dealing with the changes and ultimately the fear of failure. Excessive fear and anxiety can paralyze a person emotionally and may lead to physical symptoms if unchecked. Such levels may signal the need to seek professional assistance. The Scriptures are replete with “antidotes” for fear and anxiety: Hebrews 13:5 (NLT): “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” God assures His children He will be with them at all times through all of life’s changes. Joshua was assigned the huge task of leading God’s people to the Promised Land after the death of Moses. He had witnessed their rebellion, complaints, and threats to stone Moses to death when their journey was punctuated with difficulties. Joshua had every reason to be fearful with his positional change. But God urged him, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Psalm 46:1-3: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea….” Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Feelings of inadequacy to cope with changes are unnerving. The believer has Scriptural antidotes for this as well. There is help! God has placed His children in a community of faith. Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Psalm 63:7: “Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.” Galatians 6:10: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Be willing to give and to receive assistance! The seeds of faith (even “as small as a mustard seed”) and hope are necessary especially in difficult changes. Through eyes of faith and hope one can anticipate the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, the assurance that all things “come to pass.” Resist the temptation to murmur and complain. Instead believe in God’s goodness towards you as a son or daughter. He knows your specific circumstance and cares deeply about you. Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Numbers 23:19: “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do?” 1 John 5:14: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Psalm 42:5: “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” Romans 15:13 (NLT): “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” When the winds of change begin to blow, it is time to demonstrate a thankful heart, faith, and hope in God’s promises and His immutable character. God cares! Hebrews 4:15 (NLT) instructs us, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” Therefore, God can be trusted completely through all of life’s changes. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT). Finally, numerous scriptural antidotes from the lives of people who trusted God in weakness and in strength, in fear and hope, in failure and in victory should inspire us as believers to practice hope and bravery during life’s certain changes. Scripture quotes are taken from the New King James Version (NKJV), unless cited otherwise.